Dieng, No. 24 Louisville top Connecticut 80-59
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Gorgui Dieng returned from a sprained right ankle to score 15 points and freshman Chane Behanan added 12 rebounds as No. 24 Louisville beat Connecticut 80-59 on Monday night, the Cardinals' fifth straight win.
Louisville (19-5, 7-4) is quickly ascending the Big East standings after a rough start. While most of the 31 credential NBA personnel were scouting the Huskies, it was the Cardinals who outworked them all evening.
Dieng was questionable after Saturday's injury in a win over Rutgers, but he clogged up the lane and kept Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond in check.
Freshman Ryan Boatright led the Huskies (15-8, 5-6) with 18 points. Drummond went scoreless, missing all six shots, and Jeremy Lamb finished with seven points, well short of his average of 17.6.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun missed his second game on an indefinite medical leave of absence after he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.
Everyone contributed as Louisville looked similar to the team ranked fourth in the nation at 12-0 and nothing like the one that dropped five out of seven to tumble out of the poll three weeks ago.
Chris Smith scored 16 points, Kyle Kuric added 10 and Peyton Siva had nine assists while Behanan again made a mark coming off a 23-point, 11-rebound performance in a win over the Scarlet Knights.
Dieng appeared to have some early problems with his ankle, but was a key contributor in the Cardinals' decisive 21-4 run that gave them a 65-36 lead with 6:18 left.
Siva's 3-pointer made it 49-32 with just over 9½ minutes to play as the Huskies called a timeout. It didn't help.
Drummond missed a layup and Dieng's long outlet pass went to Siva, who feathered a touch pass to Jared Swopshire for a layup.
On the next possession, Swopshire intercepted a pass to start a four-on-one. Dieng couldn't convert the dunk, but grabbed his own rebound and finished it on the second try.
Lamb made a jumper to momentarily slow Louisville, but Swopshire hit a 3 and Siva was off and running again, cutting across the lane and finding Kuric, who finished with a one-handed slam that put the Cardinals ahead 58-34.
Connecticut called for another timeout as Siva ran to midcourt and spread his arms after Kuric's dunk. Behanan grabbed the frenetic point guard and carried him all the way to the bench. The Cardinals led by as many as 30 points in the closing minutes.
Assistant coach George Blaney ran the Huskies because of Calhoun's back problems. He fell to 3-2 in the games he's coached this season. Alex Oriakhi scored 11 points and Roscoe Smith added 10 for the Huskies.
Behanan set the tone in the second half, getting inside position for an offensive rebound and putback on the first play. After Boatright missed a 3, Behanan hit one that gave the Cardinals their first 10-point lead, 34-24, just over a minute into the second half.
It was only Behanan's fifth 3-pointer in 29 attempts this season.
Connecticut, which led by as many as three points in the first half, missed its first eight 3-point attempts until Lamb scored for the first time in the game with 16:48 left, then he completed an alley-oop pass to the 6-foot Boatright that cut it to 40-30.
The burst only temporarily slowed the Cardinals.